Gareth Southgate raved about Rico Lewis after England drew 1-1 to North Macedonia on Monday night.
The Three Lions boss told Channel 4 (20/11/2023) that Lewis impressed on his debut for his nation, as he started in an unfamiliar position at left-back.
Before the contest as well, Southgate praised the Manchester City defender, saying that he was “really pleased” with how he had trained and settled into the group.
Gareth Southgate praises “excellent” Rico Lewis after England drew 1-1 to North Macedonia
The 19-year-old looked typically composed on the big stage once again, keeping the ball brilliantly and linking play impressively as well.
While Lewis’ challenge led to the Three Lions conceding a penalty, resulting in the opposition’s opening goal, it is fair to say that the decision to hand the spot-kick was bizarre.
However, Gareth Southgate lauded Rico Lewis, who was one of the standout performers for England against North Macedonia.
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“He was excellent. We’re not looking at him for being at fault in any way. His composure with the ball was outstanding. He should be very proud because we were very, very pleased with what he did”, he told Channel 4 after the clash.
Southgate added, “Great composure, great resilience. We didn’t feel he had anything to come back from. I know sometimes as a player you might feel that. But we thought there was no crime.”
“We just pointed out how well he was playing and how well the team were playing and that we had to keep probing. We knew a goal would come and we thought more would come.”
Rico Lewis’ versatility is his biggest strength
Despite only being a teenager, Rico Lewis is trusted by both Pep Guardiola and now England boss Gareth Southgate to play out of position against North Macedonia due to his incredible versatility.
Despite not being a natural left-back, Lewis’ cracking footballing intelligence and superb technical security make him a safe bet to deploy in any position on the pitch.
That is also why the Manchester City wonderkid can slot in across a variety of roles further up the pitch.
No wonder Rico Lewis is getting as many minutes as he has at such a young age.
In most cases, young prospects must simply wait their turn and hope that the senior players in question either hang up their boots or are simply over the hill to get their chance in the sun.
But that is what separates the treble-winner from the rest as he continues to make waves at the highest level.